Gas Cylinder Safety
This document contains basic guidelines and rules to help ensure the safe handling and storage of compressed gas cylinders. Compressed gases are used in a variety of UWM programs such as instructional and research laboratories, health sciences, fine arts, scientific diving, and welding. Compressed gases serve the university in many ways, but gases under high pressure also present a number of hazards.
Mishandled cylinders may rupture violently, release their hazardous contents or become dangerous projectiles. If a neck of a pressurized cylinder should be accidentally broken off, the energy released would be sufficient to propel the cylinder to over three-quarters of a mile in height. A standard 250 cubic foot cylinder pressurized to 2,500 PSIG can become a rocket attaining a speed of over 30 miles per hour in a fraction of a second after venting from the broken cylinder connection.
Select the least hazardous gases that will work.
- Purchase only the necessary quantities.
- Select gases with returnable containers.
- When receiving gas cylinders:
Check for leaks
- Visually inspect the cylinder for damage
- Ensure the valve cover and shipping cap is on
- Check for proper labeling
- If a cylinder is damaged, in poor condition, leaking, or the contents are unknown, contact your cylinder vendor. Have the vendor return the damaged cylinder to the manufacturer.
- Wear appropriate foot protection when engaged in moving or transporting cylinders:
Sturdy shoes are a minimum.
- Steel-toed shoes if required by your supervisor, instructor or department.
- Proper personal protective clothing and equipment shall be worn.
- Always have an appropriate Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) available and be familiar with the health, flammability and reactivity hazards for the particular gas.
- Cylinders should be stored in compatible groups:
Flammables from oxidizers
- Corrosives from flammables
- Full cylinders from empties
- Empty cylinders should be clearly marked and stored as carefully as those that are full because residual gas may be present.
- All cylinders from corrosive vapors.
- Store cylinders in an upright position.
- Keep oxygen cylinders a minimum of twenty feet from flammable gas cylinders or combustible materials. If this can not be done, separation by a non-combustible barrier at least 5 feet high having a fire-rating of at least one-half hour is required.
- Compressed gas cylinders should be secured firmly at all times. A clamp and belt or chain, securing the cylinder between "waist" and "shoulder" to a wall, are generally suitable for this purpose.
- Cylinders should be individually secured; using a single restraint strap around a number of cylinders is often not effective.
- Keep valve protective caps in place when the cylinder is not in use.
- Mark empty cylinders EMPTY or MT.
- Keep valves closed on empty cylinders.
- Cylinders must be kept away from sources of heat.
- Cylinders must be kept away from electrical wiring where the cylinder could become part of the circuit.
- Store cylinders in well-ventilated areas designated and marked only for cylinders.
- Use a cylinder cart and secure cylinders with a chain.
- Don't use the protective valve caps for moving or lifting cylinders.
- Don't drop a cylinder, or permit them to strike each other violently or be handled roughly.
- Unless cylinders are secured on a special cart, regulators shall be removed, valves closed and protective valve caps in place before cylinders are moved.
- Never roll a cylinder to move it.
- Never carry a cylinder by the valve.
- Never leave an open cylinder unattended.
- Never leave a cylinder unsecured.
- Never force improper attachments on to the wrong cylinder.
- Never grease or oil the regulator, valve, or fittings of an oxygen cylinder.
- Never refill a cylinder.
- Never use a flame to locate gas leaks.
- Never attempt to mix gases in a cylinder.
- Never discard pressurized cylinders in the normal trash.
|Poison gases represent a significant hazard. Special precautions not otherwise necessary become prudent when using poison gases:
- Emergency procedures should be made clear to all involved, including personnel from adjacent labs and building managers.
- Poison gas use after normal working hours requires the approval of the Chemical Hygiene Officer for your department.
- Fume hoods and other ventilation need to be tested before use and checked frequently during the project involving poison gas.
- Notify the Department of University Safety & Assurances before your first use of the poison gas.
- The University Police should also be informed about the locations and types of poison gas in use.
- Document these procedures in your lab's chemical hygiene plan. As with all chemicals, obtain and review the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for the poison gas. Maintain an extra copy of the MSDS in your department's chemical hygiene plan.
Disposal of poison gas cylinders can often cause problems. If the cylinder can not be returned to the manufacturer, UWM can face large disposal costs ($1,000 per cylinder, or more). Even cylinders that can be returned must be shipped on a vehicle which cannot simultaneously carry any other hazardous materials or foodstuffs.